With the continued shortage of caretakers and nurses across the industry, and over three-quarters of a million seniors currently living in assisted living communities, staff is challenged more than ever to focus on assessing the needs of each resident and ensuring they’re receiving the highest quality of care. Many residents in senior and assisted living communities face chronic ailments and pain due to serious illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, dementia, and congestive heart failure. And along with each condition comes a unique specialist—even a team of specialists—responsible for treating and prescribing for the resident, meaning many doctors, several caretakers, and sometimes a plethora of medications. In these situations, the palliative approach is often implemented to manage symptoms of these illnesses and is crucial in improving not only the physical wellbeing but the effects on mental and emotional health, as well.
The World Health Organization defines palliative care as “an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual.” Senior communities benefit from implementing this type of care into the everyday structure of their residents and staff. Through palliative care, seniors are able to live in a more independent environment for a longer period of time, which in turn reduces the number of disruptive living transitions for those already dealing with daily chronic pain or disabilities. According to Statista, 21 percent of North American adults would prefer to maintain their current living situation after turning 80 years old.
Many communities also take a palliative approach to resident care by creating wellness programs to not only improve general health but to help residents find purpose through engaging and meaningful activities. These programs most often include physical activity, as well as social activities to boost emotional and spiritual health for residents, and over 75 percent of residents say that participation in these wellness programs has made them more satisfied with their community.
Caretakers play a major role in the successful implementation of wellness programs and other aspects of palliative care by providing emotional support and by communicating accurate information. When the right amount of training is in place, tech integrations allow staff to spend less time sifting through paperwork and more time engaging with residents and their family members. Utilizing eMAR systems allows for improved workflow and the reduction of medication errors. Without proper integration and optimization, it can slow down processes and create an obstacle for nursing staff, which in turn compromises accuracy.
Thorough staff training can help ensure seamless integration and EMR compatibility, enhance ease of use and, ultimately, accuracy. When seniors are dealing with chronic illness, it is important to encourage autonomy by providing residents and their family members with this clear and accurate information. Beyond training and integration, MMP works with your community to develop custom contingency plans for off-hours in order to reassure staff and residents that their safety and wellbeing is always accounted for despite complications that can accompany technology.
The aspects of holistic health include physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and mental. And the holistic approach does not necessarily mean eliminating traditional medication, but rather incorporating things such as healthier diets, appropriate exercise (i.e. physical therapy, chiropractic, yoga), and therapy to enhance overall wellbeing. With the necessary medication management processes in place—including accurate medication dispensing, reviewing for contra-indications, and ensuring optimal therapy– residents and caretakers are able to focus more on the other elements that contribute to holistic health, and less on organizing medications and supplements.
A holistic approach to medication management can be difficult when not properly evaluated from all angles first. Working with physicians, MMP ensures that the most effective medication is being used and assess whether any medications can be eliminated. Through this process, we are also sure to identify potential drug interactions to protect the safety of the resident, including dosing of over-the-counter and prescription medication. And when processes like these are combined with easy-to-use packaging solutions—like M+Pak—accuracy and medication adherence are vastly improved, leaving less room for error compared to traditional pharmacy options.
MMP specializes in working with assisted living, memory care, and behavioral health communities. Because we know that the caretaker role can vary depending on the community, we go above and beyond to alleviate the additional struggles that accompany medication management so that your staff can focus on meaningful engagement and attentive care for your residents and their families.
At Medication Management Partners, we understand the value of palliative care and are perfectly scripted to support caretakers and your communities every step of the way.